The Human Spirit: Stronger Than Any Storm

Often life passes quickly. One day becomes another and we notice very little about individual moments. Many times when something happens we take pause. We hear about a school shooting, a plane crash or a beloved actor passing. We have little to do but watch through a lens, like it’s a production being played out on the big stage, and the tragedy unfolds before us. Then it’s over. The curtain falls and we go back to our everyday lives.

Then all of a sudden one day YOU’RE on the stage. It’s in these moments that we find out who we really are. Many of experienced this recently, with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. I wanted to share my personal story.

I always find that in moments of chaos time slows down just enough for me to be able to contemplate things in a way I don’t normally have the time for. Sounds strange, but it’s true. What I learned and what I hope you take away from my story is that through tragedy there is true bonding, a need to feel connected; Even if only for a moment.

Most of the country watched, as a very angry and powerful Irma swirled around in the Atlantic. The hurricane dominated all conversations whether you were at the grocery store, gym or just getting gas. Strangers felt the need to say something about it to me. I didn’t mind, made me feel like it was us verses Irma.

Mad Bear CEO, Glenn Zimmerman, helping his neighbors prep for Irma

Once the storm’s path became ominous for all of Florida, like everyone else we knew, we stocked up and took refuge in our Tampa house. Neighbors all out and about helping each other put up crazy hurricane shutters that made it look like we were preparing for the purge. We had offers for help from people we hardly knew. Irma brought out the best in many of us.

It Takes a Village! Communities coming together to help keep one another safe

We decided to ride out the storm. But, overnight everything changed. At 5’oclock in the morning we were awakened to our doorbell. It was our neighbor with whom we have never spoken. He told us they were evacuating with their two young children and that we were welcome to go with them. They have an RV. You see, Irma moved her path directly over Tampa. So, thanks to this neighbor with whom we now have a forever bond in the wee hours of September 9th, my husband, my two kids and our French Bulldog (Chewbacca) piled into our car with only our essentials and decided to evacuate. It’s crazy to how you are able to spring into action when push comes to shove. My husband and I were both overcome with gratitude to the neighbor we barely knew. It was like he became family in a split second; Funny how a hurricane can do that.

Time to go! September 9th, 2017 Escaping Hurricane Irma

Unsure of where exactly we were headed, because quite frankly Irma wasn’t sure where she was headed. We thought Jacksonville was far enough away and it’s where my Mom and Dad live. Perfect. The drive was smooth. We even got gas and donuts! So far, Hannons:1 Irma: None. As we arrived in Jacksonville I felt my anxiety lift away. My children would be safe. I am a good, smart parent. I actually felt a bit smug. We continued to keep an eye on Irma and urgently invited friends to leave Tampa. No one accepted the offer. Thank God.

As I tucked the kids into bed on Sunday night, September 10th, I reassured them that everything was ok. Jacksonville was safe and we are praying for everyone in Tampa. No one knew what the morning would bring.

Water 2 feet deep and rising fast. September 11th, 2017

What ensued in the hours of the next morning is nothing short of a nightmare; At least for me and my family. What was already a night of uneasy sleep because we could hear howling wind and pounding rain. All I could think was, “everyone said Jacksonville would be ok, but this doesn’t sound good.” It wasn’t good. The power went out overnight. At 6’clock in the morning my Dad and I started making rounds in the house. They live near the St. John’s River. But, on this particular morning, they lived IN the St. John’s River. It took our eyes moments to adjust to what we were seeing. Water was gushing into the house from the back. It’s true what they say everything does start to move in slow motion. My son was awake and started to ask way too many questions. He was scared. It was becoming clear that if we didn’t leave soon we would be trapped and we might become a lead story somewhere. The water was rising quickly in the front and there was no way to get our cars out of the garage. The brain goes into survival mode. Throw what you need in one bag. Walk through this flood water and get OUT. We could see neighbors slowly peering out and their expressions of disbelief mimicking ours.

My 6-year-old daughter looking on in disbelief at her Grandparent’s flooded neighborhood

With the help of neighbors and friends, we made it through the flood waters to safety. Everyone is alive and my kids indeed will have a story to tell. But I will say through all the feelings, the fear of harm coming to someone I love, the sadness of my immigrant parent’s losing their dream home, the guilt that I lead my family into harm’s way, the overriding feeling was shock in people’s willingness to help us. There is something about tragedy, hardship and chaos that truly bonds people. People are good. They want to connect. They want to help. It makes them feel good. It brings me a lot of hope and sheds a lot of light on some of the darkest moments. The light continues to shine as I receive updates on all the help my parents are receiving as they try to build their life again. There you have it. Tragedy, not even Irma, can dampen the human spirit.


About the Author: Roshni Hannon

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.


Video Strategy: Part 1 (Content)

I play chess with my son. He’s 8. And he’s pretty good. He’s beaten me fair and square a few times. It got me thinking. What’s his strategy? So I asked. His answer was simple: Keep the King Alive. Strategy doesn’t have to be complicated, but it has to work for YOU.

We get into conversations with marketers all the time about their video and they usually start and end the same. While they’re excited about video, when we ask them about  video strategy, there’s usually a long pause which is generally an acknowledgment of “we don’t have a strategy….”  Our follow-up question is typically something like, “do you know how well your videos are working for you?” we typically get the same long pause. In order for your videos to deliver you’ve got to have a personalized strategy.

No two strategies are the same. At Mad Bear Productions we have a specialized three-prong approach to nailing a video strategy you’ll not only love, but one that you can be proud of.

Here are the three things to consider:

1. Content: What is your story? And how will you tell it?
2. Distribution: Who are you trying to reach and how are you going to do it?
3. Metrics (analytics and reporting): Let’s make sure it’s working and learn from the numbers.

For the purposes of this article, we are going to focus on Content. 

Humanize. Use video to inspire, entertain, and connect on a more personal and emotional level. Get creative with using video to deliver fun, approachable, and humanized content campaigns. Or deliver a personalized video campaign that literally brings each viewer into the story in a way that’s relevant, interesting and memorable. Try some things out and diversify how you use video content, and you’ll start to discover what your most powerful stories are, and what your audience really cares about. It’s about building your brand in way that makes you feel proud and that grabs your audiences attention. We produced a series of videos for Valspar to help paint a story that let’s people know they stand for more than color.

If you aren’t sure what to do or how to do it. Just be true to yourself and your brand. The most important thing is to make sure you are being genuine about what you are showing. If you aren’t being genuine, it likely won’t work.”

-Glenn Zimmerman, CEO Mad Bear Productions

Be (A Little) Daring. We are not suggesting you throw caution to the wind and produce something outrageous that will scare your customers. But you have to stand out. And to stand out you have to take some risks. Consider adding a splash of humor, maybe choose some music you normally wouldn’t. Choose an approach that is a little bit out of the box. To help a Cyber-Security firm launch a complex piece of technology, check out how we used Sun Tzu’s Art of War.


“But don’t do something unexpected and different just for the sake of it. Make sure you stand out for a reason and most importantly… that  the reason matters to your audience.”

-Glenn Zimmerman, CEO Mad Bear Productions

Do something unconventional, but do it to connect with people in a more emotional way (see Humanize above).  If you’re uneasy at the thought of trying something, don’t give up just because you are scared. Take a breath and see it from the users standpoint. It may accomplish the job better.

Make it Interactive.  In general, we find that marketers tend to be conservative in their use of video content. Explainer videos and educational webinars are pretty common now, since marketers know that video is the best way to educate given its high retention rates. It’s going to be tough to get anyone excited about your video strategy if you’re producing another screen capture video with a voice-over. But you know what they might get excited about? If you delivered an interactive video with survey questions to really engage your audience. Choose your own adventure style videos are another great way to get some engagement. What else? Well, here is one video from a campaign we completed with Northwell Health. This was one of several videos used to encourage the viewer to vote for one of three different innovations in healthcare. Nearly 500,000 votes later… success.

“Don’t feel pressure to use the latest and greatest technology in order to be interactive.  The goal is purely to engage the viewer. If the interaction accomplishes that… you have succeeded”

-Glenn Zimmerman, CEO Mad Bear Productions

Overall, a video strategy keeps you from creating aimless content. Your videos should have a purpose aligned with your business goals. So, now you have your story. Stay tuned for our next blog which will focus on how you get the right people to see it!

About the Author: Roshni Hannon

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.